Realistic expectations

Sup y’all?

Well, today, dear reader, I’m going to write about realistic expectations in general, and in particular how this leads to learning a language to a B1 level.

This is something that I have been giving some thought to recently, as I go about my daily life. As you might or might not know although I am interested in languages, enjoy learning lists of words, studying grammatical constructions, parsing Latin, among other activities.

However, I am not obsessed and I am not a linguist. In fact, languages are not a big part of my life in terms of time. I mean obviously I run Surface languages and Easy Afrikaans as hobby projects but I am largely occupied with other non language related activities.

This presents something of a conundrum. I like to learn languages, and I don’t have a lot of spare time so what do I do? How good should I expect to get in a given language – given the time I am willing to spend.

It’s taken me a while to get to this point which only make sense of you know what a B1 level is. If not the ubiquitous wiki gives a good explanation.

If you want to avoid extra reading, a B1 level can be summed up as good but not fluent. It will take you between 350 and 600 hours to reach depending on the language, whether you know similar languages, your aptitude for learning and so on.

In other words, a B1 level is very, very reachable, and you don’t have to dedicate your life to learning language to reach it. It is a reasonable expectation that you can reach that level by spending 30 minutes a day for two years or so.

Having lived on this planet for a considerable time now, and if not having gained particular wisdom, I have at least gained a sense of perspective. It is easy to have unrealistic expectations of what is achievable in a given time frame, and what you should achieve. It is also then easy to be overly harsh on yourself if you don’t achieve whatever it is that you set out to achieve, or if you fall short in some way.

It is easy to fall into this trap with languages, and to feel that your level isn’t quite good enough. The beauty of learning is that you will never finish, and this applies very much to languages. There is always something else to learn and practice, slang, specific vocab, improved comprehension. The list is endless, and infinite.

You will never know *everything* about another language. You will *never* understand absolutely everything. Everyone’s language ability falls within a continuum from hello/goodbye to educated/widely read mother tongue speaker.

This leads me back to where I started and the point I am trying to make (to me as much as to you) which I will illustrate with my Croatian level.

I have spent the last two years learning Croatian, and with a bit of a warm-up (let’s say a week) can speak at a low B1 level. I could continue, and I do really like the Croatian language, but nowadays am particularly motivated more than anything else by a planned visit. We had intended to visit Croatia last year, next year and maybe the year after.For obvious reasons this hasn’t happened, and for other reasons France is likely to be my destination next year and the following.

I had realistic expectations of the Croatian, and the Croatian I could learn, in the time that I was spending. I never expected to become *fluent* or even *near fluent*. I’m happy with my level. I had intended to carry on for two more years and maybe reach B2 to perhaps feel like I had learnt enough the language. Again this was a realistic expectation.

In the current circumstances, I no longer have the impetus to spend (due to changed travel plans) my language learning time solely on Croatian. I will maintain it, and with luck very gradually improve over time, but it is no longer my primary focus.

It is fine to have a realistic expectation that is a B1 (or A1/A2) or whatever works for you. It is fine to reach that and move on.

My aim with languages is to speak Spanish well, and others at a B1 level. This fits in with my lifestyle, interest in languages and time available.

And in other news, I’ve been struggling with my solar powered pond water feature. The battery, converter and solar panel are nicely wired up, fused and working.

The (second) pump however is not connected.

There is a helpful phrase ‘measure twice, drill once’. This is as you would imagine applicable to any measurements, not just to drilling. It is very applicable to pipe sizes.

I have guessed/roughly measured three times the bore of the pump for the water feature, and three times have wasted £5 ordering tubing which doesn’t quite fit.

I now have some calipers arriving tomorrow.

Besos and Baci,


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